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Date: 22nd April, 2020
By: Norvisi Eyiram Mawunyegah
President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo Addo has stated his running agenda of imports switch and exports modification and industrial makeover is focused while taking out IDIF importantly with the participation of the private sector. Taking on office in 2017, effortsconducted improved value addition and a conducive business and friendly environment is making headway. He made this known on Tuesday when he commissioned an $80 million iron steel plant, which is the first phase of B5 Plus Limited, the largest steel manufacturer in the Western Coast of Africa, operating under the One District, One Factory (1D1F) initiative.
He said the plant is a complete manifestation of a new paradigm of the economic development which his administration has been vigorously going after.
“I came into office since 2017 with a clear appreciation of the fact unless we industrialize with the goal of adding value to our primary products, we cannot create the necessary numbers of high paid jobs that can address the problem of unemployment as well as enhance the living standard of our people.
That is why government took steps to roll out 1D1F initiative”. President Akufo said.
President Akufo Addo repeated government commitment to providing strategic support to companies and enterprises operating in Ghana and will continue to enhance existing framework designed to make 1D1F designated companies more competitive and sustainable.
Incentives includingtax and import duty waivers; interest rate subsidies are designed to help both the capacity and competitiveness of these enterprises and to position them for greater productivity and efficiency. Currently about 76 factories are operating under the 1D1F initiative has so far employed 139, 000 people. However, 285,000 more to get direct jobs when 1D1F fully come on stream.
“Clearly this policy has the potential to absorb many more young graduates into well paid sustainable jobs within the District, Municipal, and Metropolitan areas. What we are witnessing here today is a true benefit of 1D1F policy as the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs and the expansion of value addition activities in the country”. President Akufo Addo said.
He applauded Group Chairman, Board, Management and staff of B5 Plus limited for establishing a state-of-the-art plant which is capable of competing in the global market, especially at the time trading has commenced under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). And encouraged them to take also advantage of these incentives and establish similar industrials enterprises in other parts of the country.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kojo Kyeremanteng disclosed over ¢4 billion worth of steel products are imported into the country annually, the second largest import after automobile and vehicle import.
And any efforts that seeks to promote import substitution and development of local capacity to replace imports and the potential of exporting is worth celebrating.
Mr. Kyeremanteng is optimistic with the headquarters of AfCFTA and starting of trade, B5 Plus limited, in the next two years would not only become a household name in West Africa but the whole African continent.
He commended the company and other steel companies in Ghana for providing the stimulus for industrial transformation agenda.
Group Chairman and Chief Executive of B5 Plus Group, Mike Mukesh Thakwani said the company operating for over two decades has become a one stop shop for iron and steel with huge product base and a net exporter to all the 16 ECOWAS States, with 15, 000 workers.
He said the new plant with 250,000 install capacity per annum will see to the manufacturing of iron rods, wire rods and round bars. The second phase which includes an investment of $70 million with an install capacity of 300, 000 tons mixed steel good.
Mr. Thakwani mentioned the company invested ¢3.6 million in providing 40, 000 free oxygen cylinders to both government and private hospitals as well as 10, 000 food packs for citizens in the communities in which they operate during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram Constituency, Samuel Nartey George highlighted some challenges confronting industries in the area which include land litigations, water and electricity supply and traffic congestion on the Tema-Aflao route.
He urged President Nana Akufo Addo to address the challenges, most especially by ensuring a proper land Turner system to attract investor into the country.
Furthermore, more government should assist Ghana Water Company with the needed capital investment to lay water pipes in the area to the benefit of both government and industries, adding that there are no laid down water pipes in the enclave making B5 Plus to purchase water for production via tankers.